Celebrating the Ancient Art of Oral Storytelling

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Storytelling is one of the most natural forms of communication, and plays a vital role in child development. As a specialist in outdoor playground equipment we have vast experience in creating outdoor reading and storytelling areas for schools and nurseries.

Children of all ages cannot wait to sit down at the end of the day and enjoy ‘story-time.‘ Stories can transport young minds to far away lands, allow them to battle dragons, swim with mermaids and even transform themselves into exciting and unusual characters.

In this article we’ll be covering:

  • Reasons to celebrate the art of storytelling.
  • Storytelling activities for children.
  • Taking storytelling outdoors.
  • How and why to create a dedicated storytelling zone.
  • How to advance by moving around the playground.

The Benefits of Storytelling

Storytelling is known to have many benefits beyond just improving a child’s literacy. Teachers use storytelling to enhance both listening and communication skills.

Telling a story enables the storyteller to establish a relationship with the listener. This is great for building and improving bonds between both parents and children, as well as teachers and children too. This also means that storytelling encourages children to participate in the lesson and encourages them to share their thoughts.

Children of today are less likely to share their thoughts and feelings, and as a result more children are suffering from mental health problems. Storytelling encourages children to communicate their feelings through a safe medium. You can therefore point to clever use of story time in school as a method for reducing the likelihood of a child developing or worsening mental wellbeing problems.

Stories also allow children to immerse themselves in imaginative play which is fun for children, but also beneficial to their development. We particularly recommend fantasy books as a tool for this!

Storytelling can be celebrated by everyone, no matter their age, gender or background!

Storytelling is a one size fits all activity, and as long as you have the ability to communicate your ideas; you can create and engage in a wonderful storytelling experience.

Storytelling is often an underrated activity with many people seeing it as simply ‘relaxation’ time. Here at Hand Made Places we know differently: Storytelling should be celebrated. That’s why we’re big fans of events such as National Storytellers Week.

This event runs annually at the beginning of the year. Set up originally by the Society for Storytelling it aims to promote the ancient art of ‘word of mouth’ storytelling. The oral tradition of storytelling is the oldest way of communicating creativity and it is worth preserving.

Activity Ideas for Developing Children’s Storytelling Skills

A great way to encourage this type of creativity, especially with help from a story circle, is to always ensure that you start with the teacher, or student that is in the Storytellers chair saying ‘Once Upon a Time’ and again have them end with ‘they lived happily ever after.’

This will ensure that the stories have a definitive structure.

Encouraging this activity will help to teach pupils the art of creative writing thus helping to improve their literacy skills.

A great example of an activity which you can do is to create a story in a circle!

At the beginning the teacher comes up with an opening, for example:

“Once upon a time there was a dragon called Arnold and he lived..”

then the pupil to their left adds to the story, for example

“in a forest close to our school…”

this will then carry on until they get back to the teacher who can then wrap up the tale.

Group storytelling activities are a fun and intelligent way to get everyone involved. That means that everyone can enjoy storytelling and reap the benefits!

Hand Made Places for Storytelling – Location is Everything!

Storytelling of the traditional kind has many benefits… but taking storytelling outdoors can increase these benefits even further!

By encouraging children to engage in story time outdoors you could increase a child’s motivation and enable friendships to develop. This is because when outside of the traditional classroom, children tend to feel much more comfortable. The sense of freedom that they get allows them to explore new areas and communicate with new people.

Outdoor storytelling is even more memorable with a range of specialist products which enhance learning.

A quiet area enhances the feeling of community and is great for building friendships.

Outdoor classrooms also provide a space where children can experience outdoor storytelling all year round. Furthermore, you can use them for other activities too.

Hand Made Places have a range of products which can help you to get involved at schools, nurseries, children’s centres and many more. The Storytellers Chair, and Story Circle can be used to encourage the art of oral storytelling. However, children will need to have the temptation of books removed from the area. Part of oral storytelling is to encourage people to think creatively and on the spot. Meaning that you cannot read directly from a book.

Create a safe space to read outdoors with a seating area including a Storytellers Chair which defines a space to gather. This small area dedicated entirely to the act of storytelling will help children to focus their attention.

Storytelling with Fewer Boundaries

Once children have begin to hone their storytelling skills, the activity needn’t be restricted to one specific reading zone.

The best stories for children often have a strong location, for example a stormy ocean, or a quaint farm! Our vast range of play sculptures can help you to recreate a setting from any story.

By using equipment such as the Shark or Octopus Play Sculptures, you are able to create a sea themed area. And this can be used to re-enact some of the pupils’ favourite pirate or mermaid stories.

Consider the benefits of encouraging children to act out their favourite stories using sculptures such as these: you could help them to develop a better understanding of the story. This will aid in their learning, and helps to develop their comprehension and literacy skills.

Other playground equipment such as the musical instruments range can help children to further engage with their stories. By adding a Lion Glockenspiel, pupils can create sound effects for their stories. This makes learning more exciting, especially for younger pupils.

Outdoor storytelling is a great way to get pupils to enjoy learning. Whether they are the storytellers or an adult takes the lead, children will benefit from being outside in an environment close to the one they heard about in the story.

So why not try out oral storytelling? Jump in, and see what you and your class can come up with… have fun!

If you’re interested in creating your own storytelling area, get in touch with our team today for a quote.



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